Ice Cream Smorgasbord!

The other day I was reminiscing about a place called Putnam Pantry, in Massachusetts. I went there a few times many years ago when my brother Mickey lived in Marblehead and he took me and my folks there for a treat. I had never been to any place like it. 

Putnam Pantry had an ice cream SMORGASBORD.

Here’s how it worked: you got a sundae glass and asked for a scoop of your favorite ice cream, then you went through a line to various stations to fill the glass up with any topping you wanted. AND as much as you wanted as long as it fit inside the dish.

For me it was like being Pinocchio on Pleasure Island (Disney version). When you see all that stuff what do you do?

Make a jackass out of yourself and take a little of everything.

Which I did.

It was a mess and mixture of too many flavors. I took fudge sauce, strawberry sauce, caramel sauce, nut sauce, whipped cream, sprinkled, crushed cookies and I forget what else.

Rookie move.

In that one visit I learned that if you are an ice cream lover then you asked for a large scoop, but if you’re like me and prefer topping, you asked for a small scoop and then filled the dish with the other stuff. But you don’t add all the other stuff that there is.

The next time I got smart. I got a small scoop of vanilla ice cream so there would be plenty of room for the thick, velvety hot fudge sauce that stayed hot and oozy even over the cold ice cream (maybe because I took so much?). I also added an Everest-sized mountain of whipped cream, a sprinkle of chopped toasted almonds and a few chopped fresh strawberries.

Simple, sweet and wonderful.

There’s still a Putnam Pantry in Massachusetts. And I understand they have even more toppings now. It’s too far from where I live to go to for a sundae. So when I want one I have to make it at home. 

For me, no sundae beats hot fudge sauce over vanilla ice cream and topped with homemade whipped cream. Here’s the recipe for hot fudge sauce in case you want to make one at home too.

Hot Fudge Sauce

2 cups light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the brown sugar, cream, chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until the mixture reaches about 234 degrees F on a candy thermometer (the soft ball stage when a drop of the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water). Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers. To reheat: place in the top part of a double boiler and cook over barely boiling water. Makes about 1-1/2 cups